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Posts Tagged ‘American Idol’

**Note: Because of my changing and unusual work schedule I might not get to post my reviews immediately after each episode. Please don’t hate me for that. Just keep on checking back to the blog and I’ll get them up there in a day or two. Thanks for understanding!

Night two of the AI Season 9 auditions finds us back in the city that brought us Clay, Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson. Other than the quick shot of the guy in the sumo suit I had high hopes for the talent at this venue. I discovered quickly that this would not be another banner year for this otherwise fruitful stop on the AI audition train.

Here’s what I heard and saw from my red comfy couch on this evening:

Dewone Robinson – are all the first auditioners going to suck this year? Oh Laty….laty…it’s over…go away now…

Keia Johnston – a little bit of a screamer but a nice overall sound. Won’t get past Hollywood, however. Needs help in the wardrobe department for sure.

Miriam Lemnouni – a Faith Hill clone that should quickly get dismissed in Hollywood’s first round.

Noel Reese – a bright sounding Whitney Houston clone. Another first round dismissal.

Tisha Holland – is this her second time around? Actually, after consulting the AI website, she’s been down this road a couple of times before so that’s why she looked familiar to me. However, this time her soulful and warm vocals got her the golden ticket. Now let’s see what she can do in Hollyweird.

Jermaine Sellers – this year’s Danny Gokey is a very smooth and skillful singer. Should make it through Hollywood unless he hits a huge bump, like not being able to sing well with others.

Christy Marie Agronow – don’t quit your day job, honey, ‘cuz you’re already on TV. That may have been a poor career move as well.

Vanessa Wolfe – has a definite Dolly Parton vibe to her and a decent voice. Great poor girl backstory – a Tennessee Eliza Doolittle. Hubby likes her a lot – I just hope she can survive Hollywood. But she is what this show is really all about – finding raw talent.

Jesse Hamilton – bad luck, bad teeth and I could smack Mary J. Blige for laughing so much. In fact, they all lose points, including the production folks, for their treatment of this simple chap. I hate these auditions the most.

Holly Harden – it’s Kellie Pickler 2.0! (ugh!) but she actually has quite a good voice. Another good ol’ country girl that I hear did NOT make the Hollywood cut. Oh well…

Lathan Davenport – I thought this one was a girl until I looked a little closer to the name. Ouch!

Hansel Enriquez – what’s with this dude’s name? (Does he have a sister named…never mind…) Nasal and no hope for advancement.

Blake Smith – Miss Spears may have changed his life but not for the better.

Mallorie Haley – definitely a country version of Janis Joplin and I kinda like it because she wasn’t screaming the lyrics. Hollywood bound and I hope she can stick it out because I would like to hear more from her.

Antonio “Skiiboski” Wheeler – he walks the talk but he’s so full of himself that he gets in his own way. I’m with the Brit on this one. I hope Hollywood trips him up big time.

Lauren Sanders – too soft and shallow a voice for this competition

Carmen Turner – a Kelly Clarkson clone with a limited vocal range – she won’t last long in Hollywood.

Bryan Walker – a singing cop backstory – he scared me a little when he said he was singing a la Ruben but he has pretty good chops. A little too much vocal calisthenics for me but he might just do well in Hollywood

Lamar Royal – a very angry singer who looks waay older than his is. I also hate it when they can’t take constructive criticism.

General Larry Platt – a very funny end to the night and probably going to be a very popular You Tube video. We should see him reprise his song at the finals.

OK, that’s my take on this group. Who do YOU think has a chance so far to GO.ALL.THE.WAY? Drop me a comment and let’s get the discussion going! Later, Idolites!

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Happy New Idol Season, folks!

I had planned to be back in the blogging saddle earlier than this but yet again my best laid plans were interrupted by real life and God’s will.  I’ve learned not to argue with either of those two realities so I’m simply happy to be back giving my POV to all things Idol.  In any case, as I was preparing to watch tonight’s first installment I heard the news that my favorite Brit is leaving the show at the end of the season.  What gives?  First, Paula jumps ship and is replaced by Ellen DeGeneres (I’m still not over that – even though I couldn’t stand Paula’s antics and lack of concrete critique at least she was a musician of sorts).  Now the Brit decides he wants to make more $$$ selling and starring in his X Factor’s American franchise rather than sticking with the vehicle that made him who he is today.  And everyone is now tolling the death knell for the show itself – again.

Interesting timing, don’t you think?

Ya know, this could actually work out for AI in both the short and long run.  Everyone will want to tune in for Simon’s last season so that will keep ratings from slipping this year.  Then, everyone will want to see who gets chosen to replace him and how well (or not) said replacement will do in Season 10.  My two cents on who should fill the seat?  Perhaps one of the former IDOL contestants – either Clay Aiken or Justin Guarini would be an interesting choice – so that the once judged would now be in the position of judging the next generation.    How Ellen does this year will also factor in on the judging equation so at least there will be plenty to talk about this year.

Speaking of plenty to talk about, let’s get to tonight’s first auditioners.   As I’ve done in the past, I will give you my uncensored impressions as I wrote them while watching the show from the confines of my comfy couch.  The “darling hubby” (DH) was watching with me and sharing his views as well so you might see those comments here and there.  My two dogs didn’t lift their heads from slumber at all during the show so no one was totally terrible to get their attention.    😉

So, from my neck of the woods ( I actually live an hour from Boston), here’s what I heard and saw this first IDOL night:

1 -Janet  McNamara // pull up those jeans up, girlfriend, because we almost had embarrassing butt-cleavage.  I just knew that she was gonna be a trainwreck from the word GO.  Too bizzaro for me. Buh-bye!

2 – Maddy Curtis // “tug at your heart strings” back story.  Only 16 year old but she’s  got a sweet voice and demeanor to match with a little bit of soul as well.  Off to Hollywood with her!

3 – Pat Ford // Ok,  a GLEE geek if I ever saw one – complete with bad riser choreography.  Not happening here.

4 – Jennifer Herch //she has a nice jazz feel to her voice – loved the unusual version of  “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”

5 – Claire Fuller // strong country sounding vocals but could be a forgettable performance

6 – Jess Wolfe — soulful voice with good control. I wouldn’t mind hearing more from her

7 – Amadeo DiRocco // this gumba is from Providence, go figure – (looked more like Johnston to me and I was correct!) – he’s actually pretty good – a little affected but a good strong voice – Hollywood won’t know what hit it…

8 – Derek Hilton //  white guy can’t sing like black guy trying to sing a gay Brit’s song – that may not have been politically correct but it is a pretty accurate assessment of what I heard.

9 – Mere Doyle // ok, screaming is NOT my cup of tea and I’d love to talk with her vocal coaches about that audition.

10 – Luke Shaffer // 1st guy tonight with some real vocal chops.

11 – Ben Bright // nice, old school vocals

12 – Andrew Fenlon // too much ‘tude for me – Simon & Kara had every right to get in his face – trying to be Michael Buble and failing miserably – and yet he was totally clueless as to why he didn’t make it.  Needs to buy an attitude adjustment or enroll in a charm school course.

13 – Bill Bloom // uh, no.  Just no.

14 – Michael Ryan // musical theatre geek in the negative sense of the term – NO

15 – Ashley Rodriguez // big, solid soulful sound with definite commercial value.   She could be a contender

16 – Tyler Grady // white boy with soul – BIG surprise – retro hip with a good voice to match and very polite, too.  I liked this one.

17 –  Lisa Oliveira // I had a vision of this chick not going to Hollywood – by the way, she mispronounced the town where she is from (Bill-er-ric-ca??).  Not a real New Englander, if you ask me.

18 – Ryan Keane – ouch

19 – Mike Davis // he’s got the Bahston accent down, that’s for sure – a little rough in the  pitch department to start but he settled down and actually grew on me.

20 – Katie Stevens // another touching back story.  It’s a  young voice with lots of different colors and she’s 1/2 Portuguese, too!  That gets points in my book.  She’s one to keep an eye on.

21 – Joshua Blaylock // thin but good country vocal sound.  Also a very likable guy.

22 – Justin Williams // Another LDS boy with a good back story who was also in the top 50 last year.  However I do LOVE  this guy’s voice!!!!!  Was the talk of Twitter this evening so that should help him.

23 – Norberto Guerrero // what’s with the hair, dude? – weird, surreal voice (DH said it was like fingernails on a blackboard)

24 – Bosa Mora // easy listening voice – a little lacking in the stage presence department but that could be fixed by Hollywood.

25 – Leah Laurenti // one big, old voice with lots of control and color. I would watch this one very closely, however she needs more stage presence and confidence if she wants to succeed.

There you have it – my first review of the new season.  Can I keep up with the pace?  How long will it take me to write my next installment since I can’t watch it live tomorrow night?  How many times will Simon and I agree this season?  Can I ever agree with Ellen?  Will my gal Kara keep raising the bar for both contestants and judges?

You gotta come back for those answers and more!  See ya!

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I know. I haven’t been around since last summer and I show up on AI8 finale night to finally chat up with y’all. Well, things have been very strange and crazy since last August. The short list of changes has been:

Mom in and out of hospital
I changed jobs (this one is the best of the last 8 years)
Hubby lost his job

May not seem like much but all this happened concurrently over the last 5 months and put a major crimp in my AI viewing time. Needless to say I had to miss chatting with you all about the BEST SEASON OF IDOL EVER!

Sad.

Anyway, I hope to revive my little corner of the Idol world in the weeks to come now that real life seems to have become a bit more calm. Sure, Season 8 is history but IDOL never really ends. There’s much to talk about until the Season 9 auditions begin so stay tuned and check back in about a week or two to see what I come up with. I’ll try to keep you entertained, amused and informed until January – and try not to let real life stand in my way of being Stuck in Idol with all of you.

See you soon!
J

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First of all, let me congratulate the brave souls who are getting bootleg copies of the show on to the Internet so EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO can view them – not just Canadians! I think it’s not fair that CTV locks out Americans from watching the show, even on their site where they replay the episodes. However, I get a funny feeling that this might be Fremantle’s doing for not wanted ANY competition with AI and that’s just WRONG! What’s the matter? Afraid we might LIKE the Canadian version better?

Well then, be afraid…be VERY afraid…because after watching all the audition episodes and the Top 200 to Top 24 drama — I DO like both the presentation of the show AND the judges better than the American version.

Problem is, it’s hard to find these videos and watch them before someone makes the folks supplying them remove them from view. It took me three tries to find folks who had them up and running and I was just able to finish watching them yesterday afternoon.

Not good if one if trying to be timely with reviews.

So, now that I have some idea of how to find and watch the show, I think I can try and get reviews and comments out at least in the same week of the episode I’m talking about so folks won’t think I’m a total idiot rehashing old news.

Hey, I DO have a real life and job and family and…and…you get the picture…

Anyway, this entry will deal with my impressions of the auditions and what has eventually become the Top 24 for this season. I guess they used to pick only 22 but they rounded up to 24 this year due to a greater talent pool. First, let’s take a look at the auditions — the good, the bad and the truly strange…

AUDITIONS

Ok, first of all, I think Canada has a far more diverse pool of musical talent than America. Since each province is uniquely different due to the ethnic makeup of its population and it geographic location in the federation the singers are much more varied in their styles and, uh, stage presentations. There were definitely more unpolished contestants trying out and even the number of truly strange auditioners were kept to a respectable minimum. I do have a few questions for those who have been watching this show since the beginning:

  1. Has Ben Mulroney always looked that fine? Ouch! I don’t usually go in for the tall, dark and handsome type but for this dude I’d make an exception. Easier on the eyes and ears than Seacrest.
  2. Does everyone in Canada know how to play the guitar? I never saw so many guitarists and potential string strummers in all my days. Most were pretty good. Others, well…
  3. I didn’t realize that Calgary was so cowboy – or for that matter — that there is more of a cultural melting pot in the federation than in the states. For a while there, I was having a little problem with all the accents — and there wasn’t an “eh” in the bunch. Again, another lesson in diversity.
  4. Are the judges always that helpful and accommodating to the contestants? Yes, they were firm when they needed to be but they were always respectful and seemed to want the singers to do their best. I was also surprised at the number of returning wannabees and that two of them actually made the Top 24 after a few tries – and the judges were thrilled with that. Somehow I can’t imagine our Idol Troika being that “kinder and gentler” during our auditions. Or our auditions being more about finding talent than showcasing musical train wreaks. What a difference a country makes.

Let me stop here and when I return I’ll give my opinions on the Top 24 and their chances for making it to the Top 12 – Or is it Top 10? Someone fill me in on that. I don’t want to assume it’s the same as the States. In either case, this should be an exciting musical summer up north and for those of us IDOL fans who will even watch Pinoy Idol videos during the off-season… but that’s another rant for another time.

Carry on!

J

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OK, I’ve taken some time to breathe since AMERICAN IDOL 7 finished last month but I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to wait until Season 8 to keep this operation running. After taking a look at what is being offered this summer on TV I have decided to cast my viewing net a little wider and to the north —

Even though CTV is not making it easy for me to tune in, I WILL be watching and reviewing CANADIAN IDOL 6 this summer, along with the third season of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT! I’m going to ask my “video supplier” if I can share the footage I’ve been viewing with all of you “south of the boarder” but if it will get this brave individual in trouble then you’ll just have to be content with my riveting reviews to get you through the summer.

Stay tuned…this could be interesting!

ETA — Well, I can’t share the videos on this site but I’m sure if you ask me privately I could tell you where they are. Let me see how I want to proceed now…I’ll be back…soon…

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Boy, I hoped this would happen but with Idol one never knows. Congrats to DC for pulling an well deserved upset and making Simon LeBrit eat crow on national TV! I loved it! He won this contest on his own terms by remaining true to himself up to the bitter end and for that, he earned my respect and admiration for being a TRUE musician. Now, don’t let Clive and the boys wear you down…

Congrats, too, to Archie for singing his heart out and showing what a true singer is made of. IMHO it was right that he didn’t win because he is a little too young to be put through the music industry grinder and with a voice like his he needs to be nurtured slowly so that we can enjoy his singing for many years to come. And once he turns 18 he can ditch his Dad and be his own musician. Winning Idol would have made any of that much harder, if not impossible.

So let’s raise a glass to the winner and runner up! Thanks for a great season and may you both continue to touch the world with your music!

Carry on!

J

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We’re almost there – can you believe that the finale is next week? Boy, this season has certainly flown by! It’s been an interesting, entertaining yet strangely familiar ride from the auditions to now, sort of reminding us of another vocally powerful “Search for a Superstar” – the season of Clay/Ruben/Kimberley (Season 2). The caliber of vocal talent this year has been nothing short of spectacular with a nice variety of shades and stylings — with, of course, a few characters thrown in for effect. Actually, I haven’t been bored much or wanting to slap the voters too often this season and that in itself is a GOOD thing! With a strong Top 3 there will be a deserving winner no matter who gets the most votes and we ALL win when that happens. Kudos to the judges for getting it RIGHT this season and giving us a strong field from which to choose from.

Speaking of choices, this was “Pick” night, when everyone gets to pick a song: Judges, contestants and even the dreaded PTB. It’s a night when the judges have to be really careful NOT to harp too much on song choice because in 2 out of 3 cases the contestants had no real say in the matter. In fact, I got really annoyed when they briefly started to go down that road but I guess old habits die hard. Now, we had a little twist this time around where the two male judges ceased an opportunity to jab each other’s choices for their Idol but that proved more comical than detrimental. Paula actually chose well for her Idol and was refreshingly coherent tonight – good for her!

So, with the DH and puppy by my side, here’s what it looked like from my comfy red leather couch for this week of interesting picks and very few pans:

David Archuleta

And So It Goes – Billy Joel (Paula’s pick)

That. Was Beautiful. Sigh. Absolutely gorgeous! Most mature vocal and performance of the season from this young man. What more can I say – but, as if we didn’t know, Simon tried to let some steam out of the kid’s engine. Nasty Brit.

With You – Chris Brown (Arch’s pick)

Thank God he finally did something upbeat however he was bottoming out on many of the lower notes and I couldn’t tell if it was a register problem or if he was out of breath. Give him his props for trying to be current and interesting.

Longer – Dan Fogleburg (TPTB’s pick)

This boy wants to win it bad. That was another very mature and vocally sound performance. This was the first night I saw him trying to connect with the lyrics and he did a stellar job, IMHO.

Syesha Mercado

If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys (Randy’s pick)

Nice controlled vocals but a little too close to the original for me. I hate it when the Brit and I happen to agree. She does have a solid instrument.

Fever – Peggy Lee and others (Syesha’s pick)

Best. Song. From. Her. Ever! Definitely made the song her own (and a difficult feat with this overdone number) and performed it with style and sizzle. Send this child to Broadway now and get her away from Simon…FAR away! Personally, I don’t want her to win Idol because she has a better career waiting for her than being lead around by the nose by 19 Entertainment. Let the Davids fight it out. Seriously, she has grown on me over the course of the season and I could kick myself for ruling her out at the beginning of the Top 12. She’s got talent and chops to spare and I hope she goes as far as she can, with or without Idol.

Hit Me Up – Gia Farrell (TPTB’s pick)

At the risk of showing my age, I was not familiar with this song at all. In any case she sang really well tonight, this one included. Was it enough to get to next week? Vocally I would say “hell, yeah!” but I’m not sure she has enough of a fan base to pull it off. That is, unless she gets the sympathy vote tonight for being run over by the judges (could that have been some reverse psychology on their part?). BTW, Simon’s remarks after this song were the most intelligent ones I’ve heard him utter this season. About. Damn. Time!

David Cook

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack (The Brit’s pick – what WAS he thinking?)

He HAD to do something with that song and, dang it, he did!!!! Nice upper register work and a solid, money note ending. Go figure.

Dare You to Move – Switchfool

Ok, I have heard this song – now I don’t feel so old. It was classic Cookie and, like Paula, I wanted to hear more of it as well. That’s the problem with songs that can’t do a beginning, middle and end in a minute thirty. No surprises but no fouls either.

I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing – Aerosmith

Two words: SLAM DUNK! And, no surprise, we all know who the Brit wants to win…I know, it’s only a TV show…

I won’t pick a bottom two or a “das boot” this week because no matter which way it plays out, all three deserve kudos for what they’ve done to get this far and with any combination it is setting up to be a great finale this year. Just remember, we could end up seeing another “Melinda elimination” this year so don’t rule anything out. Either way, I’ll be buying my tickets tomorrow for the tour this year because this is a very interesting and entertaining group of contestants and I would like to see them live.

Carry on!

J

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Neil Diamond night, eh? Ok, he’s not one of my favorite performers but I have liked a lot of his songs through the years and our Idols did a decent job overall with the ones they chose. Tonight’s format was a little different and I did like the fact that the judges had to wait until after the second performance before they could comment. I did keep down on the insane commentary but it left poor Paula a tad confused.

It doesn’t take much, does it?

BTW, I hear she wants to be a contestant on the next season of Dancing with the Stars. That would be interesting. Maybe Clay Aiken could be one as well and then THAT would make for interesting TV – a former Idol and a judge battling it out for a mirror ball trophy. Interesting…

Anyway, let’s get right to that view from my comfy red leather couch for this week, OK?

Jason Castro

Forever in Blue Jeans

Is it me or does this boy have no stage presence whatsoever? It’s not that he’s just phoning in the performances but that there is just no “ummph” to them. Don’t get me wrong – he has a pleasant enough voice and the little tweeny girls love him to pieces but that alone does not an Idol make. On the positive side I will say that his lower register is in fine form and he should use it more often instead of just staying in his breathy head voice. It would give him more vocal colors to choose from rather than singing one dimensionally like he has been the past month or so.

September Morn

Does he even know the tune to this song? Or was he overly pitchy in spots? I just couldn’t tell. He is just waaay too laid back for me but it’s also beginning to look like he really doesn’t care to be there. Or maybe he knows he doesn’t have to try so hard because his fan base will keep him there no matter what. Personally, I believe his 15 minutes are up big time but I may not get my wish due to tweens with cell phones who are texting their fingers off. If there IS a God…

David Cook

I’m Alive

Gutsy choice! I haven’t heard this one in a long while and he did great! He really tried to take the path less traveled when it comes to choosing music and it pays off for him each and every week. It sounded like even Neil was impressed with both his choices and his interpretations – it’s good to get the mentor on your side early!

All I Really Need is You

He seems to have captured the spirit of Neil’s songs even though he puts his own spin on them – THAT’S the mark of a great musician! He is really making me a believer! Should be safe yet again and firmly on his way to the finale.

Brooke White

I’m a Believer

Ok, Mr. Cranky Brit – it was NOT a nightmare. Far from it. BUT, because she chose to hide behind her guitar, it wasn’t as good as it could have been. The song’s limited vocal range did nothing for her vocally and for the first time she may have been trying too hard to be perky. I think she is tiring of all the phoniness on the show and it’s starting to show in both her performances and in her response to whatever negatives Simon throws her way.

I Am…I Said

She did much better on this song and, it should be noted, she didn’t drop a lyric in either on this week. I thought the song’s tempo was a little faster than I like it but that could have been the producers’ doing and not hers. She should be in the bottom two this week and might be listening to Ruben’s song by the end of Wednesday’s show if Jason’s fans have anything to say about it.

David Archuleta

Sweet Caroline

He had to stay away from the ballads this week and attempt the up-tempos and he chose two of the biggest ones in the songbook in which to do just that. He sounded really good on this one and probably won every Red Sox fan’s vote in the process (the song is played during the eight inning of every home game – “whoa, whoa, whoa!”). This was the strongest vocal he’s had in the last few weeks so it looks like he’s gearing up for the finals.

America

Shades of Kristy Lee Cook! I was hoping this would have been the group number because I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear one of the contestants take it on. He did well but it kinda boarded on cheesy for me. It wouldn’t have matter who sang the song it would have had the same effect on me. He’s so safe he might have to end up in the bottom two just to shake up the fans.

Syesha Mercado

Hello Again

This gal has turned things around and for the last few weeks has really come on strong – she is in it to win it, even though I think her best finish will be third. Hey – it worked for Kim Locke! She showed her sweet, controlled vocals on this song and without too much gymnastics, conveyed the empty hopefulness of this song quite well. I really liked it.

Thank the Lord for the Night Time

It was a great way to end the night and go out on a high note. She took on an early hit and made the audience stand up and take notice. But please, don’t keep harping on the “Broadway” bandwagon with her because that could hurt rather than help her. She should be safe but then it really could go either way with her, depending on her fan base, or lack thereof.

With all that said and done, my choices to occupy those uncomfortable chairs for this week are:

Jason Castro

Brooke White

with “das boot” going to Brooke White even though it SHOULD go to you-know-who. With my gal Carly gone my allegiance has switched to Cookie but I’d watch out for Syesha who is the real dark horse of this season.

Carry on!

J

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I was dreading tonight. Seriously. As much as I love Broadway I have NEVER wanted the contestants on Idol to ever come anywhere near the stuff. Trust me – I never once thought that they couldn’t handle the genre. Maybe it was one too many times hearing the Brit tell some poor kid that he or she sounded “too Broadway” – like that was some kind of vocal malady that no respectable singer should be subjected to. While most of my friends were looking forward to this week, I was silently praying for it to be over in a quick and painless way.

Now, I may some song suggestions for tonight like I did for the Beatles weeks and I’m happy to say I got one right. How I wished I had gotten at least one more correct because one contestant could have benefited from my insight – but, what do I know? Anyway, the night wasn’t a total bomb but I truly felt for ALW having to sit there while these kids had a go at his songs. That HAD to be tough.

One more thing – I truly believe that the judges have outlasted their usefulness. There are becoming caricatures of themselves and thus irrelevant. I won’t go into this too much in this blog but maybe it’s time to get some new blood in those chairs and I might have a few suggestions as to how to go about that – but not right now. Later. Like anyone would listen anyway…

Anyway, let’s get to the view from my comfy red leather couch, shall we?

Syesha MercadoOne Rock N’ Roll Too Many (STARLIGHT EXPRESS)

My, oh my! Talk about kicking butt and taking no prisoners! That performance was exactly what I needed to believe that this night might not be so bad after all. She was vocally on target, stylistically effervescent and paid attention to the lyrics and story of the song, which made her performance authentic. It also helped that she picked a song that few people could identify with another singer. Smart girl. Now, if the “curse of the first” doesn’t kick in she should be around for another week. That performance certainly doesn’t warrant a trip to the chairs this time around.

Jason CastroMemory (CATS)

Three words: ABOSLUTE. TRAIN. WRECK. Need I say more. He had NO business attempting that song and from the delivery to the choice of key it was just plain WRONG. I hear he was feeling ill tonight but even if he was running on all cylinders he still couldn’t have pulled it out of the nose dive it was in starting on the first note. Deserves to be and should be in the bottom three this week, if not finally sent home but, unfortunately, his fan base won’t allow it.

Brooke WhiteYou Must Love Me (film version of EVITA)

Well, well…I got one right – but it went sooooo wrong. While I can give her many props for handling the false start with great professionalism, it shook her enough to directly affect the performance. She sounded detached and out of breath most of the time, even though the song fit her range and vocal color. I’m not sure how much she’s acted before but ALW saw something in her performance that she might benefit from by tapping into in the future. Sadly, this performance will land her in the chairs this week and could send her home even though she could have one or two more weeks in her.

David ArchuletaThink of Me (PHANTOM OF THE OPERA)

Ok, I REALLY wasn’t sure that this was going to work but in a weird sort of way it actually did. He sang it in true boy band style and he was spot on vocally, gymnastics and all. It wasn’t my cup of tea but it was “aiiight” and shouldn’t get him into the bottom or “das boot” for the week.

Carly SmithsonJesus Christ Superstar (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR)

Boy, am I glad ALW talked her out of singing All I Ask of You because that could have been a bigger disaster than the dreadlock man doing CATS. I had not entertained this song for our Irish Miss but after reading an article today I remembered that another young lady had recently sung this on another reality show and really impressed the hell out of ALW. And guess what? SHE DID IT WAAAAY BETTER AND IN HIGH HEELED LEATHER BOOTS! While I didn’t care for some of her vocal embellishments, she was solid otherwise and actually looked as if she was having a good time. I hope the t-shirt gag doesn’t make her lose votes because she doesn’t deserve the bottom this week but the fans and the judges have been fickle with her throughout this competition and it could go either way.

David Cook The Music of the Night (PHANTOM OF THE OPERA)

A theatre geek? Really? I haven’t been even close to picking up that vibe. Is he another Constantine in rocker clothing? While I ponder that one, I have to say that he was doing a halfway decent job with both the vocal and emotion of the song UNTIL THE VERY END, and then it was like he jumped into hyperspace and landed in a totally different musical universe. I didn’t care for THAT at all. I’d love to see him land in the chairs for that little maneuver but his fan base may be too big for that to happen.

All in all, here are my choices to occupy those uncomfortable chairs for this week:

Jason Castro

David Cook

Brooke White

with “das boot” going to the dreadlock master Jason Castro. I got it all right last week but I doubt that I can make it two in a row – but I’d like to come close!

And I hope that Idol has learned its lesson and will stay away from this genre in the future. It’s the kindest thing they can do for all of us – contestants and viewers alike.

Carry on!

J

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Ok, gang…here’s the blog you’ve been waiting for – J’s song suggestions for this week’s Andrew Lloyd Webber night. Being the “Broadway baby” that I am, I was very happy that our Idols would FINALLY have to tackle songs that HAVE TO sound like Broadway! Simon will certainly be “Mr. Cranky Pants” for this part of the competition and if you think his comments for Country night and Mariah night were surly, I’m sure he’s thinking up some new ones for this outing. Either way, it takes a great singer to successfully master a ALW tune and it will be interesting to see how this year’s group succeeds…or not…

First of all, let me suggest a few songs from this very complex and difficult songbook that NONE of the contestants should try and take on:

Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina (EVITA) – needs a powerful and dramatic vocal that would immediately draw the comment “sounds too Broadway” from the Brit. Besides, comparisons to Patti Lupone or Madonna would most certainly be drawn. Who needs that problem at this stage of the competition?

NOTHING from Phantom of the Opera – None of these kids have anywhere near the chops to pull any of these song off, even if they change them up a la David Cook. Again, it’s just asking for trouble.

NOTHING from Sunset Boulevard – Another show that is just too heavy for the pop treatment. Just because the show is more well known doesn’t mean the singers are vocally competent to handle the music.

Now, let’s get to some songs that could make these singers stand out:

David ArchuletaClose Ev’ry Door (JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHOCOLOR DREAMCOAT)

One would think that Archie has the best chances with ALW songs but he’s a little to young vocally to handle most of them well. Give him a few more years, however, and he’ll be able to master them because they are melodically perfect for him. Having said that, my only suggestion for him is one he can do very well with – another perfect power ballad that, if sung simply and convincingly will send chills down everyone’s spines. Plus, it might just get the kid a gig playing Joseph in the next revival of the show. It worked for Donny Osmond…

Jason Castro No Matter What (WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND) or Only You (STARLIGHT EXPRESS)

Boyzone did an arrangement of the first choice that I can just hear our dreadlocked wonder singing so that one could be a slam dunk. It would also cement the fact that he might be perfect as the front man for a boy band when he’s done with Idol. The second choice would probably sound just as great but the song may not be as familiar with the viewers.

David CookSuperstar (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR) or Love Changes Everything (ASPECTS OF LOVE)

This is a tough night for Mr. Cook because ALW songs are waaay out of his comfort zone. However, I think our chameleon could benefit best by staying in the rocker mode and the first song would be absolutely perfect for that. If he really wants to show a different side and still get some growl in, the second one could serve him well with some modifications.

Syesha MercadoMemory (CATS) or Next Time You Fall in Love (STARLIGHT EXPRESS)

You KNOW our diva-in-training is always looking for the power songs and the first one is right up her alley. If someone has to sing it, it might as well be her. The second one would also suit her and even though most are not as familiar with this roller skating show (seriously, the actors sing and dance on roller skates!) the quasi R&B feel to the piece would work for her.

Carly SmithsonI Don’t Know How to Love Him (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR) or Anything But Lonely (ASPECTS OF LOVE)

I can just hear the Irish lassie taking on the SUPERSTAR classic and giving it the soaring vocal and tender treatment it deserves. She’s got the emotion for it – she just needs to channel it correctly and maybe the Brit will finally give her the due she deserves. The second one is a bit more dramatic and biting and, again, needs that big vocal energy that she has to make it a winner. My personal favorite is the first one and I’d just love to hear her take it on.

Brooke WhiteLearn to Be Lonely (movie version of PHANTOM) or Take That Look Off Your Face (SONG AND DANCE / TELL ME ON A SUNDAY) or You Must Love Me (movie version of EVITA)

Our folk singer extraordinaire was the hardest one to pick for so I ended up with three different story songs for her, all of which sit well within her vocal range. The first one was written for the movie version of PHANTOM and is a simple but haunting song; the second is a little more up-tempo (for ALW, that is) and is a story-song type that she does well; and the last one is right up her alley if she wants to sing it with only a piano for back (preferably with someone else playing so she could get a little more contact with the audience on this one).

Now, with my track record, I’ll be lucky to get one of these correct – I only got one right with the Lennon/McCartney songbook (thank you, Cookie!). What I hope happens is that whatever songs our Idols choose will be the right one for them. It should be all about the songs and the singers. But…this IS American Idol…product promotion is part of the fabric. I really want this to be a great night of singing but I am beginning to have my reservations. I guess we shall soon see. Good luck, gang!

Carry on!

J

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